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Rochester Post Bulletin: College teachers bring new perspective to high school program

Matthew Stolle, mstolle@postbulletin.com
May 4, 2015 

EYOTA -- In Greg Olson's classroom at Dover-Eyota High School, the wall separating high school from college is tumbling down.

Students no longer use T-squares, but sophisticated software and 3-D printers in Olson's computer-aided drafting and design class. And to ensure that students are getting the latest in a fast-changing skills trade industry, Olson has piloted partnerships with two instructors from nearby technical colleges. Both instructors sit on industry boards and are specialists in machining and 3D software.

That partnership, Olson said, is exposing his students to a broader world, in terms of both post-secondary and career opportunities. And that, in turn, is creating more "a-ha" moments for students, as knowledge and relevance intersect more frequently.

Here, the work in Olson's class is increasingly project-oriented and hands-on. Students work on building everything from a wood-frame motorcycle to small rockets to pieces of musical instruments.

On one level, Brian Bahr, a precision manufacturing technology instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College, and Jim Ziegler, a CAD instructor at Minnesota State College -- Southeast Technical in Winona, could be seen as competitors. Both represent area colleges that serve students in overlapping areas. Yet they say that their participation in Olson's class is not primarily motivated by competition. Rather, it's to build a connection and an awareness of the skilled trades, such as machinists and computer-aided design, and how technology has transformed them.

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